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Minnesota experiencing a bit of deja vu

It is the second year in a row that the Twins have needed a 163rd game to finish the regular season, but they are confident as they host Detroit in a tiebreaker for the American League Central title.

October 06, 2009|Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins seem to think that 162 regular-season games aren't enough.

The Twins will play host to the Detroit Tigers today in a tiebreaker for the American League Central title and a trip to the playoffs. It is the second straight season that the Twins have needed a 163rd game to finish the season, a first in league history.

One year after losing a 1-0 heartbreaker in Chicago to the White Sox in a one-game playoff, the Twins will get the home-field advantage this time around as they look to cap their remarkable September rally.

"It's like deja vu," second baseman Nick Punto said. "Last year, same thing. A lot of these guys have been through this, though. I think that's the best part about it. That breeds confidence just knowing you've been in a position like this before. It's fun. We're having fun."

Why wouldn't they be?

A month ago, the Twins were seven games behind Detroit in the division. Three weeks ago, they lost All-Star slugger Justin Morneau to a season-ending back injury. Last week, they were three games down with four to play.

Yet here they are again, thanks to 16 victories in 20 games and four straight to close the season.

"Everybody wrote off the Twins, it seems like, a long time ago, especially when Morneau went down," said outfielder Johnny Damon, whose New York Yankees are awaiting today's winner. "A team needs to keep fighting, and they've been one of those special teams for a long time. It seems like they don't give up. That's the great thing about baseball. You never know."

The Tigers had another concern, however: Their best slugger, first baseman Miguel Cabrera, was taken to a police station early Saturday after what police said was a fight with his wife. Cabrera's blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit for Michigan drivers, begging the question of why he went drinking in the middle of a key series with the division title up for grabs.

The Tigers have declined to comment, and Cabrera simply apologized to his teammates and fans for the "distraction."

Cabrera, hitting .323 with 33 home runs and 101 runs batted in, was 0 for 11 in three games against the White Sox over the weekend that could have wrapped up Detroit's first division title since 1987.

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